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Federal judge rules FBI terror watchlist unconstitutional

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A federal judge delivered the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) a big victory Thursday, ruling the FBI’s watchlist of “known or suspected terrorists” violates the Constitution.

Judge Anthony Trenga, appointed by George W. Bush, ruled in favor of 23 Muslim U.S. citizens who had challenged the watchlist of approximately 1.16 million people, with CAIR’s assistance, according to the Associated Press.

The news agency noted that the vast majority of those on the list are foreigners, but there are roughly 4,600 U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents also on the list, according to the government.

Trenga granted summary judgment but is reportedly seeking additional legal briefs before imposing a remedy.

“[T]here is no evidence, or contention, that any of these plaintiffs satisfy the definition of a ’known terrorist,’” he wrote.

The judge took exception to the methodology of placing someone on the list, as the plaintiffs noted in their complaint.

“An individual’s placement into the [watchlist] does not require any evidence that the person engaged in criminal activity, committed a crime, or will commit a crime in the future,” Trenga wrote. “The court concludes that the risk of erroneous deprivation of plaintiffs’ travel-related and reputational liberty interests is high, and the currently existing procedural safeguards are not sufficient to address that risk.”

More on the watchlist from the AP:

The watchlist, also known as the Terrorist Screening Database, is maintained by the FBI and shared with a variety of federal agencies. Customs officers have access to the list to check people coming into the country at border crossings, and aviation officials use the database to help form the no-fly list, which is a much smaller subset of the broader watchlist.

Gadeir Abbas, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, called the ruling a victory and told the AP he will be asking Trenga to severely curtail how the government compiles and uses its list.

“Innocent people should be beyond the reach of the watchlist system,” Abbas said. “We think that’s what the Constitution requires.”

For what it’s worth, Trenga ruled in favor of President Trump’s revised travel ban in another case brought by CAIR and other Muslim leaders, who claimed the executive order that restricted travel from six Muslim-majority countries was discriminatory — nearly 40 Muslim-majority countries were exempt from the restrictions.

CAIR took to social media to spike the proverbial football, highlighting a number of headlines from liberal media outlets.

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., took a moment away from the fanfare over her reported affair with a married man, and her husband subsequently filing for divorce from the anti-Semitic lawmaker, to celebrate the court ruling.

“This is tremendous,” she said on Twitter. “Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard to make sure Constitutional rights are extended to all regardless of religion, race or ethnicity!”

Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., are the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, and Tlaib also commented on the case.

“I have heard of horrifying stories of Muslim Americans who were placed on the so called “watch list,” with no pathway (you know, due process!) to getting their names removed. Today, it’s Muslims, but tomorrow it can be you, if we don’t stop this madness,” the radical left activist tweeted.

Tom Tillison

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